5 Songs With Weird Backstories

Ever wondered about the story behind some of the world’s most popular rock songs? I did some research, and put together a small list of what I found were the most bizarre. I’ll never hear them the same way again…

“Every Breath You Take” – The Police

117898460Most fans assume this is a sweet love song about someone who’s beyond infatuated with their partner…so much so, that they simply cannot stand to be apart from them. But according to Sting, the track is a bit darker than that. He wrote it during the aftermath of his divorce from his first wife, Frances Tomelty, and during the beginning of his relationship with Trudie Styler. (The women were best friends — yikes.)

In reality, the song is about a possessive lover who is obsessed with his ex. He becomes jealous of everything she does without him, so as a result, he watches her every move.

“One couple told me ‘Oh we love that song; it was the main song played at our wedding!’ I thought, ‘Well, good luck’. I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song, when it’s quite the opposite.” – Sting

So, if someone crushing on you sends you this song…run.

“Total Eclipse Of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler

total_freakin_eclipse-1Written by composer Jim Steinman in 1983, this song, paired with its haunting music video (left), is actually about vampires. (I love vampires, so I now love this song even more.) The original title was “Vampires In Love,” as it was composed for a Nosferatu musical. When Jim first played the song for Bonnie, it sent shivers down her spine. She was eager to get in the studio and record it as soon as possible. The song was originally seven minutes at full-length, but Bonnie cut it down to four minutes for radio-play. Jim said in an interview that the song is about “the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in the dark.”

Why wasn’t this song featured in Twilight?! Talk about a missed opportunity.

“Smoke On the Water” – Deep Purple

1-QrmtM44Us4r6ihV69Btl6wOn December 4, 1971, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were playing a show at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland. About halfway through the gig, some crazy person in the crowd fired a flare gun at the wooden roof. It immediately went up in flames, and panic ensued. All of Zappa’s band equipment was destroyed. Nearby, the members of Deep Purple were recording music for their upcoming album. According to npr, “They were forced out of their rooms by the fire, but memories of the smoke billowing out across Lac Leman, or Lake Geneva, gave them a song title.”

Turns out, this go-to guitar track has a more somber history than you might have thought.

“Never Learn Not To Love/Cease To Exist” – The Beach Boys

the-beach-boys-never-kearn-not-to-love-capitolCharles Manson was an American criminal and cult leader in the 60’s. Manson and his followers, known as the “Manson Family,” committed a series of seven murders, all part of Charles masterplan to spark a race war.

Before the murders, Charles was a struggling singer-songwriter living in L.A. He became friends with Dennis Wilson, drummer and founding member of the Beach Boys, and in 1968, the group recorded one of Manson’s original songs, “Cease to Exist.” The Beach Boys re-titled the track “Never Learn Not to Love,” altered some of the lyrics, and released it as their own.

Try listening to THAT song in the same way. Creepy.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana

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“Teen Spirit” was a popular deodorant brand in the 90’s, and you can still buy it! The title of this iconic song came from Kathleen Hanna, (a member of the band Bikini Kill) who wrote on Kurt Cobain’s wall one night. She gratified “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit,” teasing him and referencing the deodorant brand that Cobain’s girlfriend wore. When Nevermind was released in 1991 with this track on it, sales skyrocketed for Teen Spirit Deodorant.

 

“He actually didn’t know it was a deodorant. I felt like a bit of an asshole that I didn’t tell him, but I kinda thought it was funny. He just liked the ring of it, smells like Teen Spirit, but he also just had a good knack for picking out interesting phrases.” -Kathleen Hanna

Kurt Cobain totally gave Teen Spirit deodorant free PR without even knowing it!

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8 Songs That Will Trigger the Deepest Depths of Your Memory

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Lately, there’s been a genre of posts going viral on Instagram/Twitter that feature pictures of old games, toys, movies, and TV shows from the childhoods of late millennials like me. People typically comment on them, saying: “woah, this just triggered the deepest depths of my memory.” These kind of posts inspired today’s blog post! I compiled a list of 8 songs that were a big hit on the radio a decade or so ago. You’ve probably forgotten about most of them, but you’ll remember as soon as you press play.

1. “Barely Breathing” by Duncan Sheik

This song was released in 1996, but I remember hearing it on the radio in the early 2000’s on the way to school. It was the first single off the debut, self-titled record by American singer-songwriter and composer, Duncan Sheik. Originally, it was a last-minute track added to the album to finish the record, but the song ended up becoming Sheik’s breakout hit, entering the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard charts, peaking at #16, and remaining on the chart for 55 weeks. It even landed him a Broadcast Music Incorporated Award for Most Played Song of the Year. Since then, Duncan has focused more on composing. In 2016, he wrote the music and lyrics to the Broadway musical version of American Psycho. I heard this song in Trader Joe’s last week, and was instantly transported to 2006.

2. “Boston” by Augustana

This song was released in 2005 on Augustana’s debut record, All the Stars and Boulevards. It’s been used in quite a few TV shows, like Scrubs, One Tree Hill and The Big Bang Theory. Since then, the band split and reformed again in 2012. In August of 2016, Augustana’s social media sites changed their names to “Dan Layus,” which is the name of the founding member and lead singer/songwriter of the band. Their most recent record was released in 2016.

3. “Porcelain” by Moby

Moby, an American electronica musician, released this song as the sixth single from his fifth studio album Play in 2000. According to his website, “Its melancholic lyrics describe the break-up of a relationship based on Moby’s own reflections on past romantic affections. The song incorporates reversed string samples and piano rhythms into its instrumentation.” Moby’s real name is Richard Melville Hall. His middle name and his nickname/stage name, “Moby,” were given to him by his parents because of a distant ancestral relationship to famous author Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick. He was Hall’s great-great-great-grand uncle!

Fun fact: the song samples the song “Fight For Survival” from the 1960 film Exodus.

4. “Right Here Right Now” by Jesus Jones

This song, by British alternative dance band Jesus Jones, was released in 1990 on their album Doubt. It was semi-successful in the UK, but ended up being more successful in the U.S.–it reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of 1990. It was even named the most played song on college radio in 1991! Jesus Jones is set to release a new record this coming April.

5. “Take a Picture” by Filter

This song, by American rock band Filter, was released in November of 1999 on their sophomore album Title of Record. In the beginning of 2000, it peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Lead singer of Filter, Richard Patrick, has said that the song is about him getting drunk on an airplane and taking off all of his clothes. The band split in 2003, then reformed in 2007. They are currently working on a new record, but haven’t set a release date yet. I remember playing this song with my friends in middle school on the old video game “Band Hero.” 🙂

6. “Satellite” by Guster

This song landed Guster their first gold record just last year. It’s the second single from their 2006 album, Ganging Up on the Sun, which received a lot of radio play, but didn’t quite make it up on the charts. (I love the album artwork for this record.) I remember my local radio stations playing it a lot as a kid. Guster just released their a new record, Look Alive, in January of this year.

7. “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega, DNA

“Da da da duh, doo da-doo doo…” …That one lyric that gets stuck in your head every time you hear it.

This song was released in 1981, originally written by American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega. The track was then remixed by British group DNA, which shot it up onto the charts. The song’s title and story is based off of Tom’s Diner in New York City, located on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street. (You may recognize it from Seinfeld.) “Tom’s Diner” been sampled in a ton of tracks since, like Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries,” and The Black Eyed Peas’ “Wings.”

8. “Hey Sandy” by Polaris

Were you a fan of Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete? (It first aired in 1989.) If so, you might recognize this one–it was used as the opening theme song for the show. Polaris, which was a band specifically commissioned and formed to create music for the show, released just one album during their time together in 2002, simply titled Music From the Adventures of Pete & Pete. (I highly recommend this album, by the way…there are some killer tracks on it that make me wish they were still a band!)

Fun fact: The intro to the song features a sound bite by actor Sorrell Booke. In the clip, he  discusses U.S. missiles designed during the Cold War. This sound bite is from “To The Moon: A Time-Life Records Presentation,” an 1969 audio recording about the first moon landing.

 

What songs did you remember? Tweet me!